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If you’ve never formally learned the common traits of giftedness, there’s a good chance you’ll have difficultly recognizing it in students. Countless myths have skewed people’s perceptions.
And although it may seem unnecessary to spot potential giftedness in a child before third grade, in some cases, it really is. Kite kids, as I call them, can experience considerable challenges before then – and I don’t mean academically.
Yes, some issues relate to academic fit; however, many others relate to social-emotional issues, and too often, an inability to fit in socially – no matter how hard they try. As a result, kite kids become targets both inside and outside of school. It’s a 24/7 situation that can easily follow them to the soccer field, summer camp, or anytime they step out their front door.
My son began experiencing this just after his fifth birthday. I didn’t know he was “the G word” until after he turned eight, so by then, he’d experienced peer rejection nearly half of his life!
And even at that young age, not all children who are bullied tell their parents or teachers how often it’s occurring. (My son said very little and, usually, it was months later.)
Here are some characteristics you may notice. (Keep in mind, there are many more. And all of them relate to asynchronous development or one of the five types of intensities.)
- Advanced vocabulary, grammar and sayings for their age.
- Walking encyclopedias who know countless facts and statistics about various subjects, especially those that are of particular interest to them.
- An insatiable curiosity that only seems to increase as they get older.
- Unusual interests for their age. (See examples in my Possible Clues I Missed article.)
- More comfortable around adults than “age peers.” (This probably won’t be as obvious if the child is an extrovert; here’s why.)
- Extremely self-motivated in their area(s) of interest. In fact, it may be difficult to get these students to switch gears.
- Allergies and/or asthma (that one made me scratch my head, too!)
- Loves puzzles and problem-solving.
- Adores puns and is fascinated by anomalies.
- A sense of humor most classmates don’t understand or that they just plain find annoying.
- Notices details others don’t, and has a strong sense of cause and effect (intellectually, but often, not socially).
- A strong sense of justice.
- The counselor’s “friendship group” doesn’t help much, or at all. (hint: that’s because they’re neurodiverse)
- Emotionally sensitive. For example, in the privacy of his home, the child may still show a strong attachment to stuffed animals, or be very sentimental when it comes to cute and cuddly-looking animals.
My twice-exceptional (2e) daughter is the poster child for that last one, which experts often refer to as emotional intensity. In fact, it’s the biggest reason I had her evaluated by a psychologist who specializes in gifted and 2e children. Sure enough, the psychologist concluded that she has some higher-than-average strengths and some significant challenges that impact her both academically and emotionally. Read more about her psychoeducational evaluation results
Keep in mind, too, there’s no guarantee the student’s parents will realize she’s gifted. Often, they won’t – especially if she’s in preschool or early elementary school, or she’s the oldest child in her family.
Moreover, if the child is 2e, it’s common for adults to notice where she struggles, rather than the area(s) in which she’s gifted.
Did I mention this can get complicated?
Where to go from here
All of this can seem mind-boggling so, to help, I’ve created some suggestions for applying this information. In addition, here are a few other resources I’ve found.
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